Cannabis was on the Hollister City Council agenda yet again this week, and council members sprinted through the pot-related items faster than in previous marathon cannabis discussions.
Seven medical cannabis facilities were approved on the council’s consent agenda, but council members failed to set an appeal hearing date for another, Haven Dispensary, because two recusals left the council with no quorum.
Vice Mayor Karson Klauer and Councilman Jim Gillio had recused themselves from the Haven decision, citing potential conflicts of interest, and Councilman Ray Friend was out with an excused absence.
With just Mayor Ignacio Velazquez and Councilwoman Mickie Luna up on the dias, the item was pushed to a future meeting on Nov. 20.
Haven Dispensary Executive Director Taylor Rodrigues said he felt neutral about the decision.
“I think it highlights the issue I’ve brought up several times to the council, that they should have an unbiased attorney look at the recusals,” Rodrigues said, referring to City Attorney Soren Diaz’s relation to local law firm L+G, which has represented other cannabis applicants in the city. Diaz has stated numerous times that he has never represented an applicant himself.
Klauer explained his recusal by phone on Tuesday.
“If we go back in time to when the original item was heard for the dispensaries, I had a conflict of interest with one of the sites being considered,” Klauer said.
Klauer previously recused himself from voting on a potential cannabis dispensary, manufacturing and cultivation facility at 817 Industrial Drive, which failed to gain council approval in October.
The recusal stemmed from the building’s proximity to 807 Industrial Drive, which was then owned by a trust where one of Klauer’s family members was a beneficiary.
The property was sold approximately two months ago, Klauer confirmed. He explained why he had to recuse himself from the appeal setting Monday night.
“Because their appeal comes from that original consideration of the group,” he said. “I talked with the city attorney a couple months ago when applicants first started appealing. I had to recuse myself because it was still part of the original consideration.”
Gillio also recused himself from the Haven Dispensary item because of its relation to other dispensary applicants.
“The recusal for dispensaries is because I had applicants that were purchasing items from my store,” Gillio said. “If I were to vote no on every other dispensary application, it would potentially give the existing dispensary an unfair advantage.”
The appeal setting was pushed to the council’s Nov. 20 meeting when Friend will be back to round out the members who can vote on Haven Dispensary.
“I’m still waiting on the outcome of my final appeal,” Rodrigues said. “I’m not sure where I’m going to go after that depending on the outcome.”
Approved applicants from Monday’s meeting include: California Finest Manufacturing for medical cannabis manufacturing at 1785 San Felipe Road, High Class Distribution for distribution at 1971 Airway Drive, Hollister Holistics for manufacturing and cultivation at both 1802 Shelton Drive and 1650 Lana Way, LLXP Corporation for manufacturing and cultivation at 1971 Airway Drive, and Traditional Roots for manufacturing and cultivation at 1091 San Felipe Road. YHL Inc, another iteration of High Class Distribution, also received approval for manufacturing at 1971 Airway Drive.
“I’m happy those candidates finally get to move forward,” Rodrigues said. “I know a lot of them have been waiting. I’m glad their wait is finally over, they can start opening their businesses and Hollister gets to move forward in some aspect of the cannabis space.”